By offering a new chance to present its climate goals after Donald Trump’s climate denial management, the new US government has also provided a second opportunity for the rest of the world to review its contributions to the transition to a low-emission gas economy. greenhouse effect, by anticipating in the short term the objectives that define the success of the Paris Agreement.
“2030 is the new 2050”, underlined the French President, Emmanuel Macron, in his speech at the climate summit on Thursday (22), when five of the ten largest emitters of greenhouse gases announced today the objective of reducing their emissions by almost half by 2030: the United States (50%), the European Union (55%), Japan (46%), Canada (40-45%), and even the Brazil of Jair Bolsonaro (43%).
The emerging economies that are among the largest emitters still remain on a path of increasing emissions in the short term: China (which now accounts for 26% of global emissions), India (7%) and Russia ( 5%).
Maintaining the objectives of emerging countries confirms the position of a bloc according to which the transition must be led by developed countries, whose historical responsibility for global emissions also confers on them – according to the United Nations Convention on the climate, signed in 1992 – the duty to finance mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the rest of the world.
The lack of ambition in the objectives of emerging countries does not necessarily mean an obstacle to the trend towards decarbonization, but a delay in the curve, which will consolidate from the trend dictated and financed by the richest.
It is the confirmation of the energy transition dictated by the objectives and the financing of the richest that will allow the monitoring of emerging countries, which are clear on the prioritization of investments by their governments in other areas.
For this, the bet is that the world market will reconfigure its investments, accelerating the transition from fossils to renewable energies. By announcing bolder targets even without the support of China – whose peaks in emissions are promised for 2030 – developed countries are forcing a new global configuration. In it, carbon emission becomes a cost, while its capture becomes an economic asset.
The redefinition of the term articulated by the Americans is, in practice, a modeling of the road to the current economy. For the carbon emissions curve to fall by half over the next decade, the drivers of global production will now need to migrate from fossil sources (such as coal, oil and gas) to a – more diverse – range of sources. renewable.
Halving emissions in this decade seemed an unrealistic challenge just three years ago, when climatologists at the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that it would be the measure needed to contain global warming by 1.5 ° C.
Until today, world leaders have not faced the emergency revealed by science, not even the most conservative limit of 1.5 ° C – sensitive mainly to island countries, which may disappear from the map after this level of warming.
However, since 2015, world powers believed that in a world that had already heated 1 ° C, it would not be possible to avoid another 0.5 ° C. This is why the text of the Paris Agreement leaves a margin above this limit, setting the objective of containing warming “to 2 ° C, in the sense of 1.5 ° C”.
To compensate for the contempt of island countries, the UN tasked the IPCC to report on the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C. But the result brought by science – that the world has a chance of containing this rise temperature if it cuts its emissions by 45% by 2030 – has again been ignored by climate negotiators.
Embarrassed, countries scared the information in the report into diplomatic negotiations, and it was almost omitted from the final text of the conference that hosted it, COP24, in Poland. Since then, there have been four global climate conferences. The last of them, dedicated specifically to revising climate targets, featured repetitive announcements, questionable adjustments, and half-hearted progress, mostly long-term – with the goal of cutting emissions by mid-century.
The climate of mistrust between countries – with climatic tricks and pedals in data announcements, including in the Brazilian case – was replaced on Thursday by a new order for the economy and world politics, guided by an unprecedented consensus on the ability to respond to the climate. crisis.
While the Paris Agreement marked a historic breakthrough in diplomacy, establishing an unprecedented global understanding of the need to tackle climate change, Paris’ diplomatic success has yet to have a significant impact on the system. Earth’s climate.
Now, with the political signals that were lacking to move forward with the implementation of Paris, world leaders are now considering a basic scenario, but one that was not yet on the table: that of an adequate response to the climate crisis, with a more secure horizon. for the future, the global climate.